In the aftermath of the Duma’s decision yesterday to postpone debate on START II, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov launched another strongly worded plea for Duma members to move forward on the treaty. Maslyukov, who has emerged as one of the government’s pointmen on the treaty ratification issue (see the Monitor, November 20), yesterday described approval of START II as a key element in Russia’s relations with the world community. The former Gosplan chief restated his arguments–ones made by numerous Russian and Western military analysts–that the rapid deterioration of Russia’s Soviet-era strategic arsenal makes START II and a follow-up START III crucial to Moscow’s efforts to maintain some sort of strategic parity with the United States.
In addition, Maslyukov warned that Russia’s failure to ratify START II could both strengthen sentiment in the United States to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and weaken international efforts to halt nuclear proliferation in the so-called threshold countries. That last argument–which has been referred to repeatedly by Washington–pertains particularly to the nuclear tests conducted earlier this year by India and Pakistan (Russian agencies, December 15).
CHECHEN PARLIAMENT IMPOSES STATE OF EMERGENCY.